Normally when time comes for a sequel or adaptation of a franchise, you can have a pretty good idea of who to expect in the returning cast. The Hero
, The Lancer
, the Ensemble Darkhorse
... no one is surprised by their return. However, creators may want to shake things up and include less obvious characters. They could be a One-Scene Wonder
, someone who had succumbed to Chuck Cunningham Syndrome
, or simply a Living Prop
, or even someone from outside the franchise.
Sometimes these character choices are praised, bringing in a previously unknown character to recent audiences, but other times the choice can be seen as a gimmick to increase sales. Very often, it can increase interest if not sales, in the unexpected addition
, which is actually pretty sound business sense.
Due to the ease of slipping in outside characters in a Fighting Game (both in terms of mechanics and plot), Guest Fighter
can be considered a particularly common subtrope.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In One Piece, no one had expected Robin to join the Straw Hats. Granted, she had helped Luffy and betrayed Crocodile but it made her more of a wild card and after the battle, she had disappeared. Then just as the crew leaves Alabasta, Robin appears out of nowhere and requests to Luffy to join which he nonchalantly agrees.
- Added to that is the fact that throughout the entire Baroque Works arc, Vivi had been played up as the potential next member of the Straw Hats, until she turned down the offer to stay behind and rebuild Alabasta right before Robin joined.
- Most people wrote Bellamy out as dead, and it's not hard to see why, seeing as his boss is Doflamingo and he went and pissed the guy off by losing to Luffy. Come chapter 704, not only is he still alive and still under Doflamingo's employment, he's also a participant in the tournament for the Mera Mera no Mi.
- Regarding that tournament, the appearance of Jesus Burgess was likewise something nobody could have seen coming.
- There's also Duval's true identity, who the audience knows nothing about other than he has a personal grudge against Sanji. When his helmet comes off and everyone can see who he is, they discover that he's a completely random schmuck who never met Sanji before, but looks exactly like his horribly-drawn wanted poster.
- In Pokémon, after the Advanced Generation series ended, it was general consensus that Wallace, Gym Leader in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire and Champion in Emerald, was another addition to the many game characters that got Adapted Out in the anime. To everyone's surprise, he shows up in the middle of the Diamond and Pearl series as part of Dawn's story, hosting a special Pokémon Coordinator tournament that bears his name.
- The Best Wishes series is going to have Clair from Pokémon Gold and Silver showing up. Sure she and the majority of the Generation I-IV Gym Leaders show up at the Pokémon World Tournament in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, but that's more an optional encounter.
- Before that, Ash had Charizard rejoining his team, and not just for a big match like his previous returns. He's sticking around for the rest of the Best Wishes series at least.
- Gundam Build Fighters caught everyone off-guard with the first animated appearance of the G-Savior. Yes, that's right. G-Savior. The titular Mobile Suit from the movie that, for ages, many thought that Sunrise had went out of their way to ignore and even toss into Canon Discontinuity.
- The revival of Justice League International has Godiva, a very minor DC superheroine mostly remembered for being in the Global Guardians, a really minor DC superteam.
- Age of Ultron, a Red Skies Crossover migrates a Neil Gaiman exclusive character, who was previously part of the Spawn supporting cast, into the Marvel Universe.
- Trinity War: Nobody expected the Crime Syndicate from Earth-3 to show up as the series' ultimate villains.
- Reign of the Supermen: Superman, ironically, is this. The story was about four mysterious figures claiming to be Superman returned from the dead except, not really and yet, when the Cyborg Superman turned out to be the villain of the piece, the real Superman emerged from the Fortress without his powers and saved the day. As though a god-like figure was in the machine.
- Used towards the end of the Animorphs series. Arbon and Loren, two minor characters who hadn't been seen in years and had little reason to return again, both made surprise reappearances. Weirder still, while Arbron's fate was neatly tied up in the epilogue, Loren wasn't addressed at all, making her a weird case of this character type meeting What Happened to the Mouse?
- Warrior Cats:
- Lots of unexpected characters pop up in the Omen of the Stars finale The Last Hope, such as Redtail, Raggedstar and Mosskit. But almost nobody was expecting Brambleberry's cameo appearance at the beginning where she is one of the first cats to ever successfully give Jayfeather a lecture.
- When Dawn of the Clans, a prequel series dealing with the founding and early days of the five Clans was announced, lots of theories were made about appearances from the Clan Founders (Thunder, River Ripple, Wind Runner, Tall Shadow, and Clear Sky), original medicine cats (Cloudspots, Dapplepelt, Mothflight, and Pebbleheart), and a few other characters mentioned in the field guides (Gorsefur, Owleyes, Lightningtail, etc.). However, almost nobody predicted Graywing the Wise (a character whose sole mention in the series beforehand was being credited with creating a few WindClan battle strategies in Battles of the Clans) showing up, let alone his role as the (initial) main character of the arc. To a lesser extent, few expected Half Moon and Lion's Roar to appear in the arc, but they ended up being supporting characters in The Sun Trail.
- Sherlock Holmes and Watson (though not named, it's obviously them) appear in a segment of a Final Destination novel in Victorian Britain.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, George RR Martin has a tendency to take minor or antagonistic characters and make them point-of-view characters in later books.
- Smallville is a major offender. While sometimes the cool and unexpected DCU characters who have never appeared in live action television may be awesome to watch and being a Long Runner may justify some of it, other times it is out of nowhere and somewhat jarring when they were never involved with Superman before. It reached an all time high after season eight in attempts to restore plummeting audience figures.
- The Persuader, whose sole purpose is to teleport in, smash a crystal to make Clark's life harder, then getting flattened by the Legion who sent him back to the future in the matter of seconds.
- Some of the Injustice League. Parasite is a long-time enemy, Livewire is from Superman: The Animated Series, but Neutron is so irrelevant not even the wiki has a page on him.
- Some members of the Justice Society is slightly more well-known, but they are usually in an alternate dimension or something.
- Booster Gold. Television Without Pity sums it up nicely.
"With just three episodes left till the series finale, let's spend some time getting to know Booster Freaking Gold."
- At the end of series 4 of Merlin, Tristan and Isolde were introduced. It felt a little random considering a. they bore no resemblance whatsoever to their legendary counterparts, b. they didn't actually contribute much to the plot, and c. they disappeared entirely after their two episode appearance (Isolde being Killed Off for Real and Tristan disappearing without explanation).
- The Grand Finale also saw the return of Balinor, Merlin's father who hadn't been seen since the end of season two (and had been killed off in the same episode he was introduced).
- Both invoked and parodied by the Spanish Inquisition sketch in Monty Python's Flying Circus. The Inquisitors pop onto the scene when name dropped, proclaiming "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" but they botch their subsequent intro so many times that they have to go through multiple takes before they finally get to the meat of why they're there.
- Once Upon a Time is about "story book characters," which the creators consider to be all fictional characters, but the show puts a heavy emphasis on Fairy Tale ones, particularly Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. So it surprised quite a few people when Dr. Frankenstein showed up.
- Doctor Who has done this quite a few times.
- The Dalek Emperor being Davros in "Remembrance of the Daleks" was unexpected.
- In "The Invasion of Time", no-one was expecting the Sontarans, of all races, to be the masterminds behind the plot.
- The Master is a frequent subject of this, with the production team sometimes going so far as to conceal his presence in a story by using his current alias as the character name and turning his actor's name into an anagram.
- The Night of the Doctor has the Eighth Doctor appear after 17 years.
- And in The Day of the Doctor, it wasn't much of a surprise when all the past doctors show up...but when Twelve makes an appearance, a month before the Christmas special where he was supposed to debut, that turned quite a few heads. On top of that, Tom Baker makes a surprise appearance at the end as the Curator.
- Zagreus has the Third Doctor appear through Stock Footage.
- The Light at the End similarly features the first three Doctors via voice impersonators.
- Large-scale tours and festivals are bound to have this. Obviously everyone will know the headlining act, but when an unsigned band makes the line-up, people tend to scratch their heads (especially if they play the main-stage). For instance, Download Fest 2011, main stage with the likes of Def Leppard, System of a Down, Linkin Park and... The Pretty Reckless?
- Mass-artist compilations fall into this from time to time.
- In a media crossover-example, Rhythm Games probably get this sort of reaction when they announce the new setlist for their next title, such as with Rock Band 3 ("The Doors, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Elton John and... Phoenix?"note ).
- Rapper B.o.B. often has this with his featured artists, which have included Hayley Williams of Paramore, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, and Taylor Swift.
- Kanye West's albums usually have at least one.
- The College Dropout had Jamie Foxx, poet J.Ivy and was introduced by Bernie Mac (playing Kanye's high school principal).
- Late Registration had both Mac and Foxx, but also included Lupe Fiasco (his appearance on "Touch the Sky" was his mainstream breakthrough), Adam Levine of Maroon Five, and, perhaps most surprisingly, given Kanye's mentor and boss Jay-Z was feuding with him at the time, Nas on "We Major".
- Graduation had Chris Martin of Coldplay.
- 808s and Heartbreak had two of Kanye's previous collaborators who few expected to fit with the album's style, namely rappers Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne.
- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy had Elton John, La Roux, Fergie (of the Black Eyed Peas), Chris Rock, Nicki Minaj and Bon Iver (although the last two are only unexpected because at the time few had heard of them or knew what to expect).
- Watch the Throne had fucking Otis Redding! And Curtis Mayfield (both posthumously). And (although she is definitely still alive) Elly Jackson of La Roux and Frank Ocean of OFWGKTA fame.
- Cruel Summer had most of its' supporting cast like this - R. Kelly, Ma$e, Marsha Ambrosius, Chief Keef...
- Yeezus had King Louie and Assassin.
- Kanye is also an Unexpected Character on other people's works. Few expected his collaborations with Thirty Seconds To Mars, Katy Perry or Madonna.
- Rapper A$AP Rocky's debut 'Long-Live-A$AP' featured Drake, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar and... Florence Welch (of Florence + the Machine).
- Childish Gambino's "Real Estate" suddenly features an ending rap outro by... Tina Fey.
- Cobra Starship's "Good Girls Go Bad" featured Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester.
- Drake's "All Me" includes an introduction by... Aziz Ansari.
- Nine Inch Nails turned some heads when the guest list for Hesitation Marks included Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac.
- Every WWE Game usually has this, from Andre The Giant in Smackdown Vs Raw, to Kharma in WWE 13.
- Notable in the Kharma example is that she had never had a single match in WWE, and STILL appeared in two games (she was DLC in WWE 12).
- As well, in Smackdown vs Raw 2011, Rob Van Dam, surprising because by the time the game had been released, he'd signed with TNA.
- Street Fighter X Tekken includes Poison, and exclusive to the Sony platforms are Cole MacGrath and Sony Japan mascots Toro and Kuro.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up has characters described as "Characters you know in addition to ones you wouldn't expect." True, everybody knew that Shredder, April, Casey, and the title characters would appear, but not an unnamed Foot Soldier or an alien in a battle suit that was a one-shot character from the 2003 show (as an Expy for Krang from the 80s show). And for established characters, there's the Fugitoid and Night Watcher (who has a completely different gameplay from regular Raphael). Finally, there are Raving Rabbids.
- Another TMNT example: excluding the Turtles and Shredder, almost the entire cast of the SNES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament Fighters is really obscure. War is a very minor bad guy in the Archie comic book series, while Aska is an Original Generation character (although recent digs through the game's beta's code finds that she was initially intended to be Mitsu, from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.
- The Genesis version had Original Generation Sisyphus, an anthropomorphic beetle with no real backstory, and Ray Fillet, who was unknown to most outside of an action figure and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. Not to mention that both 16-bit versions of the game had Karai as the final boss, a character who was still pretty new to the Mirage Comics who still languished in obscurity until 2003 when she finally showed up in an animated adaption.
- TMNT fighting games have this as "par for the course". TMNT Mutant Melee had a teenage Hun (seen only in flashbacks), Sleeg (an alien that the Turtles met in the Triceraton prison that barely had any screentime at all), and MONSTER. Don't remember the Turtles palling around or fighting a character like this? That's because they DIDN'T. He showed up as the antagonist of a horror movie Michelangelo was watching. Yes, his only appearance prior was in a Show Within a Show, appearing only for a few seconds in ONE episode.
- Plenty of examples in the Super Smash Bros. series:
- In the first game, Ness from cult classic EarthBound.
- Captain Falcon also seemed a strange choice at the time of the first game, as he is from racing series F-Zero, instead of a platformer. At least Star Fox 64 has a secret on-foot mode that let Fox McCloud out of the cockpit.
- The Ice Climbers appearing in Super Smash Bros. Melee qualifies, since they previously only ever existed in a single arcade/NES title, and were only added to the roster for their gameplay potential.
- Mr. Game & Watch wasn't even a distinct character before Melee, and while his home series was significant to Nintendo's history, it is relatively unknown to those growing up after the 80's.
- Then we have the situation that named Marth Debuted in Smash Bros. Marth might have seemed more reasonable to Japanese gamers, but the series he hailed from had never been released in the United States prior to Super Smash Bros. Melee.
- Roy made his character debut in Melee. Fire Emblem Sealed Sword came out a few months later. Even the Japanese were surprised.
- While the idea of having a playable Pokémon Trainer was a somewhat popular choice, many wrote it off as very unlikely to happen. And even within the Trainer's moveset, while Squirtle and Charizard were popular choices, nobody expected Ivysaur, even if it was the most logical counterpart to the other two. Two reasons to make Ivysaur unexpected: 1) It's the middle evolution of a Pokemon. You could see Bulbasaur perhaps or Venusaur at a stretch, but Ivysaur? and 2) It's the only fully quadruped fighter in the series.
- There's also Solid Snake, who was confirmed as the series' first third-party character. Sonic the Hedgehog would have been a major example if Snake hadn't been revealed first.
- In Adventure Mode in Melee, Metal Mario's not much of a surprise, as he's also in the original. But after you've unlocked Luigi, you find yourself fighting Metal Mario and Metal Luigi.
- With the reveal of the fourth game, which will be coming out for both the Wii U and the 3DS, it was not very surprising when the Villager from Animal Crossing and Mega Man were the first new characters to be revealed. However, later on in the same day, the female trainer from Wii Fit was revealed to much more surprise.
- The Game Mod based on Super Smash Bros titled Project M managed to pull this off, but for different reasons: all signs indicated that Project M would only feature the 39 characters from Brawl due to roster size limitations. Somehow the team managed to work a way around these limitations and include (so far) Roy and Mewtwo.
- Capcom's 2D fighting game based on the third part of Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure has a couple. First up is Midler, the user of the Stand named High Priestess: since she is never seen clearly in the manga, author Hirohiko Araki had to create her character design for the game from scratch! There's also the younger version of Joseph, based on his appearance in the second part of the manga. For downplayed examples, Alessi's Stand has the power to physically regress opponents for a short time, but characters other than the main heroes usually become one-shot extras from the manga.
- Speaking of Capcom, this happens frequently throughout their "Versus" games:
- Frank West in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars had this reaction (of course, for many American gamers, nearly the entire Tatsunoko side counts, too). Also, the Big Bad of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is, of all possible people, Yami. The final boss of Okami, who is already a Giant Space Flea From Nowhere in its own game, and no one else from Okami is in this game.
- For the Marvel vs. Capcom series, we've got Shuma-Gorath and Marrow. Jin Saotome from Cyberbots had Americans asking, "Who the hell is Jin?" Also, few were expecting Strider Hiryu and Captain Commando to make a reappearance after about a decade in the doldrums.
- Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark Of The Millennium includes Ryuhaku Todoh, Maki, and Hibiki Takane, just to name a few.
- Capcom Fighting Evolution features four Red Earth characters, none of whom are Tessa. note
- M.O.D.O.K. in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Also unexpected (and before M.O.D.O.K.'s reveal) were Trish, Amaterasu, and X-23. Later, Mike Haggar joined the fray and the manliness levels of the game skyrocketed. And near the end, Taskmaster. 'Nuff said.
- With the Updated Re-release Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, we received Rocket Raccoon and Firebrand. Phoenix Wright would also qualify if not for the fact that he was so highly requested (and hello again, Frank!).
- Nova was also highly unexpected Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, compared to the rest of the added cast. Nova had never been a big name Marvel character, surprising many with his inclusion.
- Namco X Capcom made some unusual decisions for its cast. On the Namco side, many of the characters are from old Arcade Games, the most recognizable being Dig Dug (complete with Badass Makeover). The Capcom side is just strange; one of the playable characters is the shopkeeper from Forgotten Worlds, and the Resident Evil and Mega Man franchises are represented by Resident Evil: Dead Aim and Mega Man Legends — hardly the first choices for either series. In addition, Capcom's Rival Schools is represented by minor characters; one can argue Namco's Soul Series is also represented by minor characters, but the two characters chosen are also arguably more important in the first game of the series.
- Before appearing in Brawl as mentioned above, R.O.B. also showed up as a secret character in Mario Kart DS. For Mario Kart Wii, surprises include Funky Kong and Dry Bowser. And in Mario Kart 7, we have a Lakitu, a Wiggler, Metal Mario, and Queen Bee. Before all those, we had Petey Piranha and King Boo showing up as unlockable racers in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!.
- SNK has gotten into the act as well, from the many Another Striker cameos in The King of Fighters 2000 to such characters as Mars People, Red Arremer and the title character of Athena in SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos. Nobody expected a King Of The Monsters character (Cyber Woo) in Neo Geo Battle Coliseum. Now they've bowled us over with one of the confirmed new fighters for The King of Fighters XIII. Who is he? Hwa Jai, who has not been in a proper fighting game since 1991.
- Super Robot Wars is not above doing this. In addition to the usual legendary series and recent hits, any Humongous Mecha that exists in any medium, no matter how obscure it is, has a chance to be included. Combat Mecha Xabungle and Hades Project Zeorymer are two such examples.
- Prior to Super Robot Wars Judgment, the term "robot" implied that only series featuring Humongous Mecha can only be included. When Tekkaman Blade and the subsequent Detonator Orgun in W and Iczer One in K made their debut into the franchise, this was totally out of the blue, as these series were centered around Powered Armor mechanics, not robots. In a sense, this was developer Banpresto's way of letting loose with formula, but also their willingness to redefine what exactly encompasses the terms "robot" and "Mecha".
- The Super Robot Wars Original Generation series mostly just features original cast members from other Super Robot Wars games. When the bonus chapters of the compilation/Video Game Remake Original Generations was unveiled, it caught everyone by surprise when it included Fighter Roar, a character from another Massively Multiplayer Crossover by Banpresto named the Great Battle series. He piloted a redesigned Compatible Kaiser, which appeared in just one game.
- Few people expected Super Robot Wars Z2 would add Dai-Guard to the roster.
- Super Robot Wars UX blows everything else out of the water by giving us Fei-Yen HD. It hasn't appeared in any game. It's an action figure based off an official piece of artwork. But what really pushes it over the type is that it's actually a giant robot version of Miku Hatsune. That's right, a Vocaloid will appear in Super Robot Wars. Adding the cast of BB Senshi Sangokuden wasn't exactly easily guessed, either. Yes, the series' graphics are usually Super-Deformed, but this is probably the first time it was ever by default.
- And then Super Robot Wars OE reveals Sgt. Frog.
- The Dragon Ball games do this a lot.
- The Budokai Tenkaichi games have, among others, Grandpa Gohan, Arale Norimaki, General Blue, Frieza Soldier, Appule,note Spopovich, Babidi, and Nail. The more popular characters are usually expected or asked for, but some of these are just unexpected.
- The original Budokai trilogy had this, especially Budokai 2 which featured Gokule as an unlockable fusion, and even What If? characters, specifically Tiencha (Tien and Yamcha after doing the Fusion Dance) and 4 different forms for Super Buu after absorbing Tien and Yamcha, Vegeta, Frieza and Cell.
- The arcade game Dragon Ball Heroes includes a ton of characters first appearing in games (Kid Krillin, Pirate Robot, Bio-Broly, Paragus, Kid Vegeta, Young Nappa, Lord Chilled, GT Satan, GT Goten, Bills, Whis, Hell Fighter 17, Oceanus Shenron, etc.) as well as new transformations. (Super Saiyan God Goku, SSJ 3 Trunks, SSJ 3 Future Gohan, GT Gotenks, Super 17 Cell Absorbed, Baby Janemba, etc.).
- Melty Blood, a fighting game based on Tsukihime, had Miyako Arima, a character barely mentioned to have existed, and even then not by name. Not to mention Neko-Arc, Mecha-Hisui, and Neko-Arc-Chaos.
- While both Yoda and Darth Vader were constantly advertised as playable characters in Soulcalibur IV, having Vader's apprentice from The Force Unleashed was not expected by many, particularly since his game had yet to be released at the time.
- And Angol Moa- sorry, Angol Fear as a bonus character? Even more unexpected...
- Soul Calibur II kicked off the tradition with a unique and wildly out-of-left-field guest fighter for all three major console versions. The PS2 got Heihachi Mishima, the X-Box got Spawn, and the GameCube got Link.
- In Dissidia: Final Fantasy people assumed early on Seymour would be in as the villain of Final Fantasy X, but instead Tidus' father Jecht, who was more an Antihero/Antivillain than a real antagonist, got in over Seymour. Not that people mind... Square actually decided to explain this one—Seymour had more of a rivalry/connection with Yuna, so having him in the game as the representative villain would have meant there was little going on between Tidus and Seymour story-wise, whereas Jecht provided a deeper father-son/rivalry dynamic.note
- Nippon Ichi games often have a number of characters from other games appear as cameos, which may fall under this trope. For example, the character Aramis from Disgaea: Hour of Darkness appears for all of one chapter and isn't even playable in any version of the game. He becomes a Downloadable Content Optional Party Member in Disgaea 3. Another example is in Zettai Hero Project, whose strongest Bonus Boss is actually Valvoga from Makai Kingdom. His only other appearance outside those two games were as part of a spell animation in Disgaea 2.
- Harold the ghoul in Fallout 3. He wass the only character that appeared in the three first main Fallout games.
- The Mascot Fighter Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion includes the channel's usual stable of characters... and Captain Planet, who actually predated the channel by a few years.
- Nicktoons MLB has five SpongeBob characters (natch): SpongeBob, Patrick, Sandy,... Larry the Lobster and the Flying Dutchman? We also get Gaz, Powdered Toast Man and a Yak. The 3DS version adds Hiro Mightypaw.
- Ten Desires had some unusual casting choices: Youmu returned as playable after being ignored for the last three games, the final boss from six games previous returns... as the first boss, Kogasa reappeared as a midboss... it was to the point that people weren't really surprised when Nue showed up as the EX midboss.
- Hopeless Masquerade, the fighting game set during a religious squabble. The Buddhist representatives are the head monk and... Ichirin, The Generic Girl, rather, say, Shou, the next most important of the group. Meanwhile, the character from Mountain of Faith isn't from the Moriya shrine or even Aya, but Nitori, a fairly minor character unrelated to the conflict. And Subterranean Animism gives us Koishi, who's entire schtick is not caring about things or being cared about.
- The upcoming Scribblenauts game Scribblenauts Unmasked will have all DC superheros, even ones that appeared decades ago for one panel.
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty changed most of its promos to hide the appearance of player character Raiden who unexpectedly replaces Solid Snake. Even the antagonists have no idea who he is during the first half. Due to negative reaction, the character changed for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and his reveal happened at the end of the trailer.
- Guns of the Patriots also managed to keep another character completely hidden. It was Big Boss who did not appear until the start of the credits as the game's final twist.
- Infected allows you to play as the members of Slipknot along with... the vocalist from Chimaira (who says musicians need to get their own Guitar Hero title to be put in a game?)
- Pretty much any musician appearing in a non-music game counts as this. Was anybody really expecting the Fight Club video game to have Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit as a playable character?
- The appearance of Sonic's Classic self in the teaser trailer for Sonic Generations.
- While Mortal Kombat Armageddon promised to bring back every character that ever appeared in a Mortal Kombat game as playable, it's doubtful that very many fans (assuming they even knew who he was) would have expected Meat making it to the roster, given that in his appearance in Mortal Kombat 4 he wasn't so much a character as an alternate costume available for any character through a cheat code to make them look like a bloody skeleton.
- Kuina and Zeff from One Piece appeared in One Piece: Grand Adventure, the American made sequel to One Piece: Grand Battle.
- Yugao Uzuki from the Naruto series, appearing in Clash of Ninja Revolution 2, has to be one of the most unexpected characters on this list, appearing in the Manga for less then five panels, showing none of her skills in these panels.
- She is so unknown that many assumed (and still do assume) she was a character created exclusively for Revolution 2 along with Komachi and Towa, the other exclusive ANBU, despite appearing in the Anime and Manga as mentioned before.
- It doesn't help that she was unnamed in all English versions of the series up to that date (guidebooks referred to her as a generic female ANBU).
- Among the huge roster of characters in LEGO Star Wars 3 is Galen Marek, also known as Starkiller. While there was a set made to promote The Force Unleashed (the Rogue Shadow set), few could've guessed that Vader's Apprentice would actually be in a LEGO game.
- In Batman: Arkham City, the roster included such iconic Batman foes as Two-Face, Catwoman, and the Penguin. More of a surprise was Solomon Grundy; while he's had a few run-ins with the Dark Knight, he was a foe of the original Green Lantern, and more commonly takes on various DCU heavy hitters.
- Opa-Opa, the spaceship from Fantasy Zone, appearing in Sonic And Sega All Stars Racing.
- Capcom vs. SNK 2 with Eagle, a fighter from the first iteration of Street Fighter otherwise not seen in years. There's also Kyosuke Kagami and Hibiki Takane (though they're both still fan-favorites in their own series).
- Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance], an early article on the game had the name blocked out, but it mentioned the reviewer was really surprised by some of the new characters he saw. Turns out that no one could have predicted who he meant — Neku and his friends! All bets are off on whoever else might be getting in, in this or future games now.
- Persona 4 got a sequel, not in the form of the much-desired Persona 5, but in an arcade-style fighting game Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena... with Aigis, Akihiko, and Mitsuru from Persona 3. Then there's Labrys, who was seemingly a new character created from the game...until Americans learned she had actually debuted in a Persona 3 Drama CD released only in Japan.
- A rare case when a game itself can fit this: For a while, it was rumoured a new Pokémon game would be revealed at Jump Festa 2011. Fan speculation ensued. Would it be Grey Version? A Ruby/Sapphire remake? No, it was a crossover with Nobunaga's Ambition.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: A game of swords, sorcery, dragons, and... the Space Core from Portal 2, as of a recent official PC-only add-on.
- In the main game, Sinderion the alchemist from Skingrad returns from Oblivion in Blackreach, as a corpse. He was still doing research on Nirnroots when he died.
- The much-delayed PC version of Renegade Ops features... Gordon Freeman of Half-Life?.
- Final Fantasy XIII-2's first North American DLC features a battle with Lightning, and everyone was expecting that. What they weren't expecting was for Sergeant Amodar to appear... and be a Commando-role monster. On top of that, The Unfought of Final Fantasy XIII, Jihl Nabaat, followed a few months later.
- Probably one of the most insane examples is Street Fighter' Ryu appearing a DLC boss in Asura's Wrath, a game that isn't even a Fighting Game to begin with. What makes it even crazier is that fighting him changes the gameplay completely into a 2D fighter, meters and life gauges and all ala Street Fighter IV, though Asura's bottom gauges are different and more like his own game, of course.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds has Joss Whedon as an unlockable character.
- Sonic And All-Stars Racing Transformed has NASCAR driver Danica Patrick as a playable racer, as a cross promotional stunt for the game; the car she's be driving in the game is planned to be driven by her in future NASCAR races.
- This game also has its share of racetracks from unexpected sources, the most prominent one being Silent Blue from Burning Rangers. This game is so obscure, it isn't on Wikipedia's list of SEGA franchises.
- The Team Fortress 2 characters in the Steam release of the game.
- When Sony announced that PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale would have third-party characters, nobody expected Big Daddy to be among them, never mind to be the first announced. Big Daddy has the appearance of a Bouncer model, but can also use Plasmids, like Subject Delta from BioShock 2.
- Parappa The Rapper being revealed in the initial announcement was a pleasant surprise.
- Starhawk's Emmett Graves and Dead Space' Isaac Clarke as DLC characters also came as a surprise.
- The final boss, Polygon Man.
- Here's a shock: Sir Dan Fortesque from MediEvil, a series that ended on the original Playstation.
- And in the fan-made Mega Man DL 2 who is itthat poor Snake Man finds himself pitted against? Airman!
- Paper Mario: Sticker Star was bringing in many characters in the main series and had only a few new, notable characters. Some of the old characters brought in make sense, such as Bowser Jr., Kamek, and Petey Piranha. But there's one odd one: Gooper Blooper, a boss from Super Mario Sunshine. Unlike Petey, who also debuted in Sunshine, Gooper Blooper only made a few cameoes after his debut. He's now the third major boss of the game and a Dance Battler.
- The Gundam Vs Series had stuck to animated machines and characters. Extreme Vs blew that out of the water when the Crossbones showed up in it, alongside the Astray Red and Blue Frames. Later DLC added the Blue Destiny Unit 01 (only appeared in a video game), Hi-Nu Gundam (a variation of Nu Gundam that only appeared in a novel), and the Xi Gundam (another novel-exclusive). Extreme Vs Full Boost looks set to continue the trend. Extreme Vs Maxi Boost shall start at March 2014, bringing in Penelope (the rival MS of the Xi Gundam).
- Ace Attorney Investigations 2 had a fairly ridiculous amount of returning characters from past Ace Attorney games, but perhaps most unexpected was Frank Sahwit, the murderer of the first case of the first game who essentially serves as nothing more than a tutorial for the player. The developers admitted they added him mostly because it was the series' 10th anniversary.
- In RosenkreuzStilette, you get a code that lets you play as Grolla in her own side-game, Rosenkreuzstilette Grollschwert. And what happens when you get to the end of her own stage as her? You meet the original player character, Spiritia, as the boss.
- Similarly, in Weißsilber, the side-game to Freudenstachel, playing as Pamela in her own stage introduces you to another unexpected face... It's Karl Palesch, Liebea's older brother who was only mentioned a few times in the first game.
- Few Tomb Raider fans were expecting the return of Natla in Underworld
- Several in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As Portable: The Gears of Destiny. The first was the announcement of the Materials, who were kinda killed in the first game. Then they announced Yuuno and Alph who fans had assumed the people behind Nanoha had forgotten about in recent years. Then the Lieze Twins were announced, who appeared even less than Yuuno and Arf, and aren't exactly high in the popularity lists. The biggest surprise though would have to be the announcement Rynith, since not only was she a Posthumous Character, but she had also never been shown fighting before Gears of Destiny.
- Jojos Bizarre Adventure All Star Battle
- Shigechi as DLC came right out of nowhere and added yet another Part 4 character to the roster. To further add to the surprise factor, it had previously been made known that a guidebook for the game covered "32 characters + 2 DLC", when 33 of those characters were already known. Needless to say, people were expecting someone a bit more momentous for the final, single character reveal.
- The same somewhat goes for Fugo. Not only did the man only have one real fight, and thus, not a whole lot to use for a playable appearance, but he pretty much bowed out right at the end of the first half of Part V.
- Still, there are others definitively more unexpected then him, such as a young lad named BAOH. Baoh's from another manga altogether, but one still made by Araki, that came before Jojo. This has split the fans between those who don't want their Jojo game to include characters from other works, and those who don't really mind.
- Bowser Jr. in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. Usually he wouldn't be this, but in this game he's the bonus boss and shows up with no foreshadowing whatsoever.
- The Warriors Orochi series started out as a crossover between Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors. Then, we started to see all-new characters that had nothing to do with the time periods of either game, such as Jeanne D'Arc. Then the ninjas started to arrive. Then, we got Sophitia Alexandra
- When it was announced that Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze would be getting a fourth character alongside Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong and Dixie Kong to be revealed later in 2013, fans were expecting someone like Kiddy Kong or Funky Kong. So people were naturally surprised that it turned out to be Cranky Kong. Also compounded by the fact that Reggie Fils-Aime's VGX appearance was to reveal Cranky rather than the next Zelda game like many anticipated.